No two volunteers look alike. Take Ron Barnard, for example. A retired magistrate from New York, Ron has traded his judge’s robes for shorts and work boots as he gets down and dirty in the trenches, installing irrigation systems for us.
Ron, hubby of Pharmacist Donna Barnard, was introduced to Bruce Chancellor, Hospice’s Facilities Director, at our United Way Day of Caring project last March. Ron offered his expertise in irrigation to Bruce, who wasted no time putting him “to work” as a volunteer. So far, his dirty work has saved the company at least $5,000. And…he loves it, insisting on three days work a week.
“I walk away from volunteering at hospice with my heart all a-pitter-patter,” says Ron, whose father was cared for by hospice in NY. At left, he gets ready to ride in his fully equipped truck, which sports a Betty Boop theme, from steering wheel cover to license plates.
Raquel Cervantes was born in Mexico, but spent most of her adult life in Chicago. Although she has lived in the U.S. for 39 years, she spoke almost no English at her waitress job or at home with her family. After her husband’s death she moved to Ocala to be closer to her sister. That was three years ago, and today, Raquel is creating a new life...and learning a new language.
Encouraged by friends Janet and Howard Smith at the College Road Baptist Church, Raquel decided to start meeting new people by volunteering at the Hospice Thrift Store in Belleview. However, the language difference was a barrier so she signed up for the English as a Second Language class at the church, which happens to be taught by Janet and Howard.
The invitation to volunteer at the thrift store was two-fold, says Janet: “We thought this experience would quickly help her improve her English because of the communication with customers and other volunteers. Her bright energy is a big help and we love having her with us at the store.”
The Smiths were right. Raquel has been volunteering with Hospice of Marion County since 2006. She assists the cashier with packing and bagging items for customers. Her native language is particularly helpful when dealing with several of the regular Latino customers. “I enjoy talking to people and helping them,” says Raquel. “Hospice of Marion County has been wonderful to me and I look forward to seeing all my new friends and co-workers.”
In addition to her volunteer work and church activities, Raquel spends time gardening and decorating her home. “I get a great deal of pleasure from flowers and working in my yard.”
The call is open at Hospice of Marion County for energetic people who want to learn and serve others like Raquel, Janet, and Howard. Currently, the Hospice of Marion County volunteer corps numbers 700 dedicated individuals who contributed more than 60,000 hours a year.
Thrift Store volunteers assist the managers staff in a variety of ways. Sales associates are provided specialized on-the-job and customer service training. In addition to working in the Thrift Stores, Hospice of Marion County volunteers support care by making in-home visits, nursing home visits, bereavement calls and performing office duties, as well as event support at fundraisers. All volunteers are required to attend a 20-hour Orientation session, which is a great learning experience. Hours are flexible; seasonal volunteers are also welcome. Call the Volunteer Office at 352-873-7441 to learn more or visit the Web site at www.hospiceofmarion.com and click on the Volunteers tab. Click on the English-Spanish cell in the upper right corner of the page to change languages.